Failure to follow FAA safety standards causes eight to die in fatal helicopter accident

It was a three year old, approved for flight, Sikorsky helicopter. Everything about this aircraft was checked and cleared for safety by the Federal Aviation Administration. On Jan. 4, 2009, $7 million aircraft was brought down after a collision with a red-tailed hawk.

Seven minutes into flight, the helicopter hit a red-tailed hawk, shattering the windshields and plunging the 6-ton aircraft into the marshes below. Eight people died from this incident.

Everything about the helicopter seemed modern and fine, but upon close inspection, it was found that this accident could have been prevented if safety standards were actually enforced. According to USA Today, “ its windshields were made of acrylic and didn't meet strength standards the FAA established in 1996 to prevent catastrophe in a bird strike. The FAA allowed the lighter acrylic windshields because the helicopter had only to meet federal safety standards from when it was designed — in 1978.”

This is “absolutely crazy” as retired colonel, air-safety expert, and former commander of the U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory Dennis Shanahan puts it. "This is essentially an abrogation of (the FAA's) responsibilities as a safety agency." The aircraft passed inspection because of an exemption policy called “grandfathering,” which gives manufacturers the right to construct brand-new aircraft under the safety standards that were in place when the aircraft was designed sometimes decades earlier. The Piper Cherokee, for instance, needed to only meet the federal safety standards that were set for the airplane from the 1960s and 1970s.

These policies have obviously led to dangerous repercussions. Since 1964, nearly 45,000 have been killed from crashes in private flights. Safety deficiencies have contributed to thousands of these deaths.

In every potential life-risking, life-harming situation, it is imperative to seek an attorney for further assistance and help. Our attorneys continue to represent countless victims and their families, helping them in their time of need to receive their deserved compensation. For an opportunity to speak to one of the attorneys at our law office, please call 800.637.8170. Here, you will receive advice on the next steps to take, a free copy of The Ohio Wrongful Book, and plenty more resources to assist you.

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